The world is a big place, but advancements in language translation are making it a little smaller every day. A shared understanding emphasizes what we have in common, rather than the chasms that keep us apart. While we’re not living with “Star Trek”-like universal translators yet, we are able to point smartphones at unknown signs with words instantly translating on the screen before our eyes. It’s not magic, but it sure feels like it.

It’s a pretty great place in time to be as we celebrate International Translation Day Monday. It’s an amazing time to revel in the reach of our translation services, no matter where you are in the world, and no matter what device you’re using.

Microsoft’s translation research is powering advancements all around you, from phone to desktop and beyond. For more than two decades, Microsoft has made deep investments in machine learning and natural interfaces that has produced tools people use every day. Language is no longer an obstacle in understanding emails and web pages. Even online relationships can spark without a common tongue. You may not realize it, but you’ve probably already been using the machine translation technology from Microsoft Research. The machine translation team originated in the Natural Language Processing group, which was responsible for the spelling and grammar tools within Microsoft Office and includes scientists, lexicographers, linguists, software engineers, and machine-learning experts.

Breaking down language barriers is an incredibly complex problem, but it has also spawned experiences that touch our lives every day. And the future promises even more natural ways for people to communicate.

Read more about all the work Microsoft has done in advancing translation research on the Next at Microsoft blog. And for more insights on this exciting technology, read this feature story from Microsoft Research.

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Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff